PUEBLO, Colo. – It is no secret that the late Lane Frost continues to inspire bull riders and people of all ages 26 years after his death.
However, not only has Frost inspired others, so too have his parents Clyde and Elsie Frost.
It was Elsie’s own words that helped re-inspire Aaron Watson and help save the Texas country music singer’s career almost four years ago.
Watson recently toured the PBR headquarters in Pueblo last week while in Southern Colorado for a concert in Colorado Springs.
In October 2011, Watson and his wife, Kimberly, lost their newborn Julia Grace.
“After we lost Julia, I really struggled for months getting up on stage and singing to folks having fun,” Watson recalled. “I was heartbroken, homesick and I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to get up there and have fun. Yet, at the same time this is my job. This is how I make a living for my wife and three kids at home. I just had to find a way to suck it up and keep going.”
It wasn’t easy for Watson. He couldn’t find any inspiration for his music and he wasn’t enjoying his passion for songwriting and playing in front of crowds.
His frustration continued to build up until one night he finally hung his guitar up on the wall in his office after failing to write any new songs.
He bowed his head in prayer.
“I said ‘God, if this is what you want me to do for a living, I could sure use some help.’”
A few weeks later, Watson had put his three kids to bed and Kimberly had already called it a night herself.
Aaron couldn’t sleep and was in the game room of their Texas home when the movie “8 Seconds” flashed across the screen.
He watched the famous movie about Lane Frost’s tragic death many times before, but this time something caught his attention.
“(Elsie) said, ‘Lane was a World Champion bull rider, but that wasn’t his greatest achievement,” Watson said. “She said, ‘Lane’s greatest achievement came a year before he died when he asked Jesus Christ to be his Lord and savior.’
“At that point I realized because of Jesus I am going to see my little girl again in heaven. I just felt that burden lifted off my heart.”
Watson then began working on a song for Elsie. He didn’t know what better way to share his gratitude for her strength and message other than by writing her an acoustic song.
“July in Cheyenne” was never supposed to go mainstream like it eventually did.
However, once he played it for a public audience in February 2012 during Cowboy Church at the San Antonio Rodeo, he began to realize how moving the song could be.
“Trevor Brazile did the preaching and I played some songs,” he said. “I decided out of nowhere to try and sing that song. It just had a huge impact on the crowd and I started singing it here and there and we ended up putting it on the record.”
The song was added to his album, “Real Good Time,” and he later played it to the Frosts live during Flint Rasmussen’s “Outside the Barrel” show at the 2013 National Finals Rodeo.
He also played the song before the NFR that year.
“That was a beautiful experience to get to sing that song to them live, especially with Flint there, I love Flint,” Watson said. “I sang it again to them later that night at the opening ceremonies at the NFR. I was more nervous about Clyde and Elsie Frost being there than the other 29,998 people.”
Watson has become close with the Frosts since he first wrote the song.
The song never would have gone mainstream if he didn’t receive her blessing.
“Before we ever released the song or the video, it was important for me to have momma Frost’s consent,” Watson said. “That is why I wrote the song – for her.”
Elsie was recently at Watson’s Liberal, Kansas, concert earlier this month.
“If you go on my Instagram, you can see I took a selfie with Elsie,” Watson laughed.
Watson has made a name for himself among the Western sports faithful, and he hopes to play at a PBR event in the future.
He says unlike other mainstream country music stars, he has tried to remain entrenched in the roots of the cowboy way of life.
“That is one thing country music is missing these days,” Watson said. “Nobody sings about being a cowboy any more. Nobody sings about being country anymore. With all due respect to the mainstream artists, but they dress like Justin Timberlake, so I don’t really get it. A lot of them have really good music, but it is not country music. Maybe I don’t play country music anymore. Maybe I play country and Western music. Maybe I need to retitle my genre as Western music. I just fit in well with the folks in the rodeo scene. That has become our bread and butter and we love everything about it.”
According to Watson, he has turned down record deals in the past when asked if he would change his appearance.
“To me, that is a deal breaker,” Watson said. “That is what makes me, me. I want people to understand, ‘Hey I take pride in wearing boots, buckles and cowboy hats.’”
Watson’s current album, “The Underdog,” features such songs as “That’s Why God Loves Cowboys,” “Rodeo Queen,” “Freight Train” and “Getaway Truck.”
Even though he was never a bull rider, “all I cared about growing up was girls and baseball,” Watson sees similarities between his lifestyle and theirs.
“It is a lot of miles on the road,” Watson said. “A lot of time away from family. A lot of passion and hard work goes into chasing your dream and turning your dream into a livelihood.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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